In this blog we will discuss in length the etiology of developing this phobia, what its symptoms are and how it can be treated.
Gamophobia is the fear of getting married. It is derived from the Greek word ‘gamo’ meaning ‘marriage’ and ‘phobos’ meaning ‘fear’.
This means that the person is afraid commitment or being in a relationship that involves commitment.
Marriage is a serious relationship involvement that requires serious commitment from both the people who decide to indulge in it.
It is called a sacred bond because in all religions it holds a religious value and many other values, emotional and social are again dependent on it.
Every society also hold this bond as vital for ethical growth and cultivation.
The goal of marriage is famously quoted as ‘not to think alike, but to think together’.
Marriage for some is fearsome and for some it is no less than a dream, a fairy tale romance initiation that is evoked by all the literature present.
Gamophobia is an intense fear of forming a serious relationship and getting married.
It gets serious when this fear stops the person from engaging in any relationship at all, thus keeping him isolated form others in fear of forming a close bond.
These people might in extreme case then later in life can suffer from Autophobia (fear of being alone).
This can be due to bitter past experiences of broken hearts or seeing failed marriage in the family or around.
But whatever the cause the treatment is essential to save the person from suffering from anxiety.
Causes of Gamophobia
Gamophobia is also a psychological fear of attachment.
This idea seems scary to most people and they prefer their independence not being held responsible for anything or anyone, because again the commitment factor is too overwhelming for them.
They prefer their freedom, and the idea of sharing their living space and belongings makes them loathe the entire idea.
Not dancing to anyone else’s tunes is their forte. This shows their possessiveness towards their independence and possessions.
There are certain obligations also attached that seem daunting to some people.
This gives rise to the development of Gamophobia.
The idea of sacrificing one’s own interests for someone else can give rise to anxiety.
Another reason that fuels Gamophobia is growing up in an unhappy household, seeing parents fighting and unhappy with each other.
This is a very strong reason for people to loathe the entire institute of marriage.
There are couples who stay together despite their differences, maybe for societal pressures or their children.
But they do not realize that in the process they are actually damaging the very beings they are trying to protect: their children.
These children are the ones that may later develop gamophobia due to the bitterness and constant squabbling between their parents.
Their this experience is enough to put them off marriage for good.
Another reason for developing Gamophobia is a very happy marriage of parents.
Some people have seen flawless relations in their parents and are scared that they might not be able to live up to the standard of perfection of that level.
This seems irrational because every person is an individual, it does not mean that if a couple is unhappy that the person is bound to have an unhappy marriage.
Similarly, if a person does not marry in the first place, or does not get into a serious relationship, how will he able to see for himself how he does in it.
Fear of divorce due to familial and societal pressure can also play a role.
Symptoms of Gamophobia
The Physical Symptoms of Gamophobia include:
- Speedy heart rate
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
The Psychological Symptoms are:
- Feeling of dread or terror at the thought of marriage.
- avoiding the topic of marriage.
- experience uncontrollable anxiety at the thought of marriage
- The individual understands the irrationality, but cannot control it.
- fear of losing control
Treatments for Gamophobia
There are people who suffer from Gamophobia and get anxious at the mere thought of marriage.
Gaining self-confidence, the person suffering from Gamophobia should try to maintain trust.
Marriage is not the sole responsibility of one person, it takes two to tango, therefore keeping this in view it can be an added asset to share all tasks.
And extracting joy in sharing as well.
The focus in therapy should be on specific and not generalization. If one marriage is rocky does not mean that marriages will fail.
If other marriages are happy does not mean that the person may be unable to achieve that level of satisfaction.
There is no competition in marriages. (to succeed or lose)
When two people get married it does not mean that they lose their individuality.
The beauty of marriage is that the couple shares common disciplines while maintaining their individualities.
Rather than expecting more from the other, try to give first.
Discuss with your partner what you both want form each other.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatment for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.
Gamophobia is defined as the irrational fear of marriage or commitment.
Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about their commitment to marriage.
Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation.
The ABCD stands for:
i. A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
ii. B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
iii. C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
iv. D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Gamophobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients of this specific phobia.
Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).
i. Half-smiling is the first module of DBT. It is a technique that is used with patients who are distressed because of their irrational thoughts.
The technique is known as ‘Half-smiling’ because the person is first advised to think about the stimuli that fears or upsets them, and while doing so they are told to lift the corners of their mouths by subtly smiling.
Smiling is not that will help one get rid of these unpleasant thoughts, it is the person’s ability to constrain itself from thinking about those thoughts while half smiling.
ii. Mindfulness, the second module, is another technique used in DBT groups which helps the individual in getting rid of those negative thoughts.
Individuals are told to focus on the present and be attentive to what is going on around them at the moment.
This helps in breaking the link between their mind and any negative thought that might come to them then.
For example, a person is told to focus on his breath or on the sound of the blowing wind, making use of their auditory sense.
iii. The third technique or module of the DBT is distress tolerance skills. This module teaches people to calm themselves down in healthy ways when they are distressed or emotionally overwhelmed.
Individuals are allowed to make wise, rational decisions and take immediate action, rather than being captured by emotionally destructive thoughts that might make the situation worse.
Reality acceptance skills are also learnt under this model so that people fully accept reality and later make plans on how to address the problem/fearful aspects to it.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, is used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions.
Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions, lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example to focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process.
This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation, 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Gamophobia.
Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of the phobia is only genetic.
However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Medicines may only be given if the symptoms require and in conjunction with psychotherapy.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
i. Anti-anxiety Drugs
Medicines like Valium are anti-anxiety drugs.
They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
ii. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggest don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Lexapro reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm.
They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Gamophobia, instead they are one of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people.
Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of one’s mind while a person is in a particular yoga posture.
Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calmer, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts.
Out of a number of yoga types, one can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like.
Hatha yoga is one of the different types of yoga.
The breathing techniques or the imagery one creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts about marriage and the fear related to it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes Gamophobia?
Gamophobia is caused by seeing unsuccessful marriages or stressful couples.
This could also be due to genetics, fear of responsibility as well.
What is Fear of Marriage (Gamophobia)?
The fear of marriage is called Gamophobia.
How can Gamophobia be overcome?
Gamophobia can be overcome through counseling and therapies.
What is the phobia of marriage called?
Gamophobia is the fear of commitment, though it can also be the excessive, persistent, uncontrollable and irrational fear of marriage.
How prevalent is Gamophobia?
Like all other phobias Gamophobia is prevalent in about 20% of the people in the United Sates.
Titles to Read From
- Gamophobia: An Essential Guide to Understanding Why You’re Scared to Get Married and How to Overcome Gamophobia
by Deborah Kurtcher
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert
by John Gottman PhD and Nan Silver
- The Marriage Counseling Workbook: 8 Steps to a Strong and Lasting Relationship
by Emily Cook PhD LCMFT | Mar 13, 2018
- Couples Therapy Workbook: 30 Guided Conversations to Re-Connect Relationships
by Kathleen Mates-Youngman | Oct 6, 2014
Do ask us if you have any questions. Thank you.